Studio Tour: Gazillion Entertainment
While arriving at the Gazillion Entertainment headquarters in Foster City, CA, I stopped to soak in what was about to take place. While not my first time meeting David Brevik, I had to wrap my head around the fact I would be hanging out with the man who created my favorite game of all time – Diablo. The company he now runs is responsible for Marvel Heroes 2015 (“MH”) – the game I can’t stop playing for nearly 2 years. Getting myself psyched was not just for Mr. Brevik. I knew I would be meeting his team. The men and women who pour their hearts into MH and probably don’t have the luxury of just sitting down to enjoy it the way I get to.
As I was prepping my mind for the meeting I was greeted in the lobby promptly by David. We shook hands, exchanged pleasantries and made our way up to the 7th floor. Stepping off the elevator, guests are greeted by massive banners for Gazillion’s 2 properties: Marvel Heroes 2015 and Marvel Superhero Squad. I havn’t played the latter, but the artwork sure is cool. I love how the first thing David showed me is the snack room. Like many development companies, Gazillion stock the kitchen with a lot of snacks – both healthy and fun. I was then shown the gorgeous view of Redwood Shores from the balcony that wraps around the south side of the building. Along with a pool table, video game consoles, a Foosball table and more, there is a lot to do during those late night efforts by the talented folks at Gazillion.
For those of us that play MH, we know about the weekly patches. Mostly they include bug fixes but we’re usually also treated to weekend buffs, new costumes and heroes and hero changes. The patching process is not trivial. There are many considerations at the infrastructure level, while keeping the player-experience as strong as possible. I sat-in on an ad-hoc meeting about patching. It was 90% over my head, but witnessing how often solid infrastructural ideas were shot down due to the affect on player-experience was refreshing. The team won’t settle for anything that affects the accessibility of their games.
After first meeting David last year, my friends asked me what he’s like. I thought describing David as humble, kind, and soft spoken was sufficient. I learned a lot more about him on this trip! His office says a lot about him. It’s not the biggest office on the floor, it’s not in the corner with the killer views; and frankly, I don’t think he spends a lot of time in it. During my time with David he didn’t sit down. Granted, he was giving me a tour for a good chunk of that time, but while he was working he was moving from team to team speaking with individuals about their assignments. To me, that means he’s passionate about the games, the people, and the community of players – their customers. Other than a few comics posters on his walls, there isn’t much going on in his office. He has a cool Diablo poster but he hasn’t placed it on the wall yet. If only I had worked up the courage to ask for it…
During my visit I had an opportunity to sit down with Chris Frenton, the Art Director for MH. He’s a real class act. Nothing was off limits and we were immediately joking around about design ideas and how he starts every day by playing MH. The majority of our conversation was about his interactions with Marvel. What I learned is everything must go through Marvel: hero designs, costumes, pets, etc. Did you know Marvel Heroes 2015 features costumes that are original creations of the Gaz team? It’s true! Bonus points and a hero pack code for the first person to comment on this post with at least 1 correct costume description. Chris’ team is actively working on new designs. Most of these are from existing comics but some are personal favorites of the team. David jokingly referred to this as a “employment benefit.” Still, the first place the team goes to determine what to work on comes from the MH forums. They look to the fans first – classy stuff.
I can’t thank David and team enough for giving me the grand tour of their office and graciously spending their time with me. Geeks With Wives has been a supporter of MH since it was in beta and we love to stream the game weekly. If you are interested in joining up and streaming with us, feel free to let me know!